Survey: 36% of women have had bad maternity hospital experience in Latvia

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According to a recent survey by publicist Agra Lieģe-Doležko and the research company Nortstat, 36% of women who have given birth in Latvia have encountered a hurtful attitude from medical staff, the survey's authors told LSM on February 16.

A total of 2,591 women participated in the study, of which 1,440 had given birth to at least one child in one of the Latvian hospitals. Of the 1,440 women who gave birth, 36% replied that they had experienced negative interactions from medical staff before or during maternity, or after childbirth. 61% of women had not experienced negative attitudes, while 3% chose not to answer the question.

Most often, women who did have something to report received negative comments about their appearance or behavior (41% of those who have experienced some form of negative attitude), criticism of breathing and pushing (32%), or lack of skills in breastfeeding and childcare (32%).

22% of women who have experienced negative attitudes reported that their calls for help had been ignored, 17% have encountered lying and withholding information, 16% have been shouted at, 12% threatened, 14% have experienced unwanted or violent touching, while another 15% have been subjected to violent pushing on the stomach or other unwarranted physical contact.

The study showed that negative attitudes were expressed both by doctors (45%), midwives (41%), and nurses (43%). Labor violence was equally distributed among large cities and rural residents.

The author of the study, Agra Lieģe-Doležko, said that the results show not only that negative and perfunctory attitudes towards women during maternity are widespread in Latvia, but also the high level of society's tolerance to violence in general.

"Referring to the 'Soviet legacy' all the time is not an excuse for postponing the solution: both the internal culture of the medical authorities and the public's response to this seemingly mundane violence need to be radically changed. Shouting and scornful comments and refusing to help are all forms of violence," Lieģe-Dolezko said.

The study was carried out by Norstat Latvija, Agra Lieģe-Doležko and communication scientist Olga Procevska.

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